According to the latest data from the Social Security Administration, the average Social Security benefit amount for retired beneficiaries at 65 years old was $1,389 per monthly in December 2021.

. The SSA calculates the benefits for each retiree individually. The amount of your benefit depends on your earnings during your working years, the age at retirement, cost of living increases, and whether or not you have a pension.

How does my Social Security benefit amount be determined?

  • Your income. The more you earn, the greater your benefit. Your 35 highest-earning year is used to calculate your income. This is helpful if you have years in which you were less successful or had to take time off work to care about your family or your health.

  • You will receive a lower amount of basic benefits if you claim Social Security prior to reaching full retirement age. If you delay retirement beyond your full retirement age (age 66 if born between 1943-1959, or age 67 if born in 1960 or later), the benefits you receive will increase incrementally up to age 70.

  • The cost of living increases. Each year, the SSA adjusts its benefits to reflect this cost-of life adjustment. It announced an 8.7% increase in the cost of living for Social Security beneficiaries in 2023. Cost-of-living benefits increases are available to you when you reach 62. This applies regardless of whether you claim your benefits right away. These increases will be included in the amount you receive, regardless of whether you wait to retire fully.

  • You are eligible for a government-funded pension. For example, public school teachers are often affected by this reduction.

What will I get more if I delay my retirement?

From the time you reach full retirement age, your Social Security monthly benefits amount will increase by a specific percentage each month until you turn 70. This is why you might be able to get more benefits by waiting for a few years.

Your year of birth determines the percent that your basic benefit amount will increase between full retirement age (70 years) and age 70. If you were born after 1943, the increase is 8% per year.

There are no incremental benefit increases after age 70. Therefore, waiting to retire longer will not increase your benefits.

The SSA may recalculate your benefits if you work while you wait to start to claim benefits. If you work while receiving Social Security benefits, it can reduce your benefits.

What happens to me if I die before 65?

Social security benefits can be started at age 62. However, this option may result in a reduction of your monthly benefit up to 30%. Benefits for longer periods of time are the upside to early retirement.

If you wait until 70 to claim Social Security benefits, you will receive the maximum monthly benefit. However, you’ll get less years of receiving benefits. Consider your financial future, health, and life expectancy before you make a decision.

How to Apply for Social Security

Call 800-772-1213 to apply for Social Security and ask questions about your benefits. To apply in person, you can also schedule an appointment at your local Social Security office.

Anyone residing outside of the U.S., or on one of its territories, can contact the nearest U.S. social security office, U.S Embassy or consulate.